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Posted by Musai (50 posts) -

Posted this on Reddit, and I thought I would make a blog out of it while the iron is hot. You might remember me from the sex and gender thread I made a couple of weeks ago.

Full disclosure. I say this as a white man, a demographic that the games journalism industry is composed almost entirely of. I also say this not as some bitter man who is on the outside looking in with no work to show; I've worked. I've written. I have more experience than some of the people who got their starts had when they got their starts. I have some of a journalism degree, a year and change at a fansite for no money (read: slavery), a year at a university paper doing a games column, and a few months with a startup enthusiast site doing a little news.

The truth is, "just do it because you enjoy it" is bullshit. I stopped writing for a few years because I'm just too hurt and discouraged and broken to keep trying. I don't write to stroke my ego, and I don't write because I enjoy the physical act of punching keys or wracking my brain over a word, I do it because I want people to read it. I want to share the world inside my head with people, and it breaks my heart when I realize I probably will never be able to.

I sent some work to someone who now writes for Kotaku. They corresponded with me back and forth for about two messages regarding an idea I had for a piece. Then, when I asked for some advice, they stopped replying.

I tried to freelance for The Escapist. Nope, didn't work. I applied for a news job there, and got the same sort of "Can't help you". Kotaku, when they were hiring a few years back? Forget about it. Same for RPS.

No, it seems that unless your name is one of the industry "name brands", or you happen to know one of them, you are destined for a life outside the looking glass, with nothing to show for your ambitions and time but a portfolio full of pitches, ideas, and nothing else.

Now I'm not saying that the well known games journos of the world don't deserve to be where they are. On the contrary; some of them do amazing work. But how did the get where they are? It's usually a variation on "Well, [established name] gave me a shot, and here I am. This is a problem. (The other problem is writers and video producers getting paid a liveable wage, but I can only rattle one pot at a time.) The problem is, what can I as an individual, or us as a community, do to change this? Obviously I don't want a world where everyone is a well known game critic, but there has to be some sort of happy medium so that people who work hard enough can at least get the attention of the correct people. Do you agree? How can we fix this? I hope that this all makes sense, I should be asleep by now, so it might be a bit jumbled.

Thanks for reading.

#1 Posted by Wolfgame (695 posts) -

Seems like you have been trying really hard to get noticed, I think game journalism is just hyper competitive because we are seeing the kind of closed tight knit group at the top on the websites you mentioned, then everyone freelancing off of table scraps and lastly people who publish a great deal of interesting video game focused writing for free as a hobby. Like anything in life I can only recommend remaining persistent, keep chasing the different opportunities as they become available and who knows how things might develop for you in the future. I wish ya the very best working towards a game journalism career.

#2 Edited by JJBSterling (166 posts) -

I'm taking journalism right now for the purpose of writing about and for the games industry, and your experience is definitely something nagging in the back of my head every once and a while.

It really is something that worries me as I get to the final few weeks in my first year of the course, but it's my dream and I plan to work towards it as hard as I can.

Don't give up!

#3 Edited by bluefish (428 posts) -

I think you have to become someone notable and credible on your own. Have a youtube channel, popular blog and reliably relate-able persona. Someone like IGN isn't looking for a blogger, they're looking a games literate multimedia aficionado who people like tuning into.

plus there must be 50 000 dedicated, educated nerds trying to get those jobs at any and all times. I wouldn't be offended if I were you, I'm sure they ignore 49 990 of them daily.

#4 Edited by JasonR86 (9608 posts) -

Refer to my snarky comment in the other journalism thread.

#5 Edited by Clonedzero (4091 posts) -

The awful truth of the world, it doesn't really matter how good you are at something. If there is a guy who's remotely competent but knows people, that guy will get the job instead of you.

#6 Edited by SoldierG654342 (1735 posts) -

Unfortunate, most fields are like this to some degree. As the idiom goes; "It's not what you know, but who you know." I wouldn't have gotten my first job if it wasn't for the recommendation of a reputable entrepreneur that my mother knew from work, and joining a professional fraternity will probably prove more useful than all the years of college under my belt and the one left to go. It sucks, but that's the word we live in. It's especially bad for games journalism, because there are so many people jockeying for so few positions.

One thing you might want to consider is starting up your own site or blog. Not (just) for games, but for any writing that you feel like doing. If you can build yourself an audience, then getting hired will likely be much easier as you can show potential employers that you have readers that will click on their pages. It'll also allow you to explore other genres of writing that may prove more fruitful. The reason games journalism is so insular is because there is a glut of people trying to get in. There are just too many people for too few jobs. While you may love games, you also have to eat and if writing bout something else can get you a paycheck, you should explore that option.

Something else others have noted is that games media is moving away from pure text, so begin able to preform on-camera is also very important. Try writing scripts for yourself and producing video content. Don't just do voice over, make sure people can see you so you can practice the way you handle yourself. Even if you don't post it for the internet at large, you should show it to people so you can get feedback.

Good luck to you in the future. I hope things work out for you.

#7 Posted by Fear_the_Booboo (390 posts) -

@bluefish said:

I think you have to become someone notable and credible on your own. Have a youtube channel, popular blog and reliably relate-able persona. Someone like IGN isn't looking for a blogger, they're looking a games literate multimedia aficionado who people like tuning into.

plus there must be 50 000 dedicated, educated nerds trying to get those jobs at any and all times. I wouldn't be offended if I were you, I'm sure they ignore 49 990 of them daily.

What he said.

Look, I've been a movie critic for a while. Most of the work has been unpaid. Some has been. I'll probably never make enough money to live out of it but whatever, I do it anyway.

One time, I worked as a critic at the Cannes Film Festival. It has been one of the greatest experience in my life. It was the first time in four year I got paid to be a critic. Wasn't that much, but I was just happy to be there. I'm still writing critics but I'm not paid anymore. I do it because I enjoy the work. Sure I'd like it better than my shitty job, but right now is not the time. Maybe one day I'll get another breakthrough like I had with Cannes, maybe not.

Stay positive as much as you can, but also cultivate other projects that interest you. One is bound to pay off one day.

#8 Edited by Slag (4001 posts) -

@musai:

This is a problem across all journalism these days. The core problem is the business model is broken. Look at what is happening to the major dailies and cable news. They are bleeding to death due to channel fragmentation so what's the first thing they cut? Senior reporters, especially investigative reporters.

It's the curse of the internet, people can get whatever information they want for free essentially. A Walter Cronkite could exist today. The minute he said something his viewers did not want to hear, they would change the channel to one that said what they wanted to hear or find a site that does. It doesn't matter if what he said was true or not, People want to hear validation of their beliefs and be entertained at the same time. Which leads to race to the bottom of clickbait sites, zany youtube channels and fan blogs etc. News is essentially dead, we live in the infotainment age.

Until/if people become willing to pay for content again, there aren't going to be a lot of jobs in any field of journalism. And what they will probably be most willing to pay for is infotainment not just straight news and criticism.

The networking side of things is a dark truth in every industry unfortunately.

#9 Edited by joshwent (2112 posts) -

@musai said:

Full disclosure. I say this as a white man, a demographic that the games journalism industry is composed almost entirely of.

Hmm. Maybe start by getting over your weird self-loathing?

And second, find the thing that makes your POV unique, and focus on it. You seem to be interested in social issues related to games. That's still a hot topic on all of the big sites, so it's pretty well covered already, but maybe you can focus on a side of those discussions or a perspective that isn't explored as much... and write about it a lot. Or maybe you're the guy who loves Intellivision shit. Or the guy who weaves awesome puns into his articles. Or that dude who's just endlessly enthusiastic. Or... (insert appropriate unique quality here)!

As others have said, there are thousands of other people trying to do what you're doing, but you can stand out if you emphasize your voice. That's the thing that none of those other jerks have, and it might be the key to getting noticed.

Good luck!

#10 Posted by I_Stay_Puft (3012 posts) -

I think with any job the unfortunate truth is sometimes it's just the people you know. Brad and Patrick have spoken about it before but they kind of found their "in" by knowing some of the staff from EGM back in the day on IRC. I'm not saying they don't deserve to be where they are now cause both of them are pretty good writers but the truth of the matter is sometimes all it takes is a little luck.

#11 Edited by Video_Game_King (35995 posts) -

Joke post:

@joshwent said:

Or the guy who weaves awesome puns into his articles.

That guy doesn't exist.

#12 Posted by Video_Game_King (35995 posts) -

Serious post:

@joshwent said:

you can stand out if you emphasize your voice. That's the thing that none of those other jerks have, and it might be the key to getting noticed.

Everybody has a voice.

#13 Posted by Aetheldod (3511 posts) -

Even if it is a much hated idea on these forums ... youtube is a great alternative , I found many interesting channels that cover videogames differently and might add, more enthusiasticly than the bunch of cynical San Franciscans gaming media. It has a lot of competition , but not all channels are Pew whatever he is called, and you can make money and a name for yourself there.

#14 Posted by Stealthmaster86 (631 posts) -

You're starting too big. You have to find the smaller websites first to see if they want you as a temporary freelancer. It took several smaller websites just for me to find one that would "hire" me. I still did all the work for free. But the risk of going to a smaller website is that one day it won't be there no more. A couple of years ago I used to write for a website called RespawnXReload. I wrote several reviews and covered events from home. One of the final events I covered was E3 2012. I worked hard on writing about all the games I can about E3 alone. It took all day and it was hard work. While I didn't mind that, the thing that hurt the most was that most of my articles never went online and RespawnXReload had cease to be. The worst thing about that is I lost most of my work. So, when you write something, be sure to have a backup of what ever it is your writing.

There will be bumps, there will be fallbacks, and sometimes it feels like you are about to give up. Just don't give up. Start small and work your way up from there.

#15 Edited by csl316 (8106 posts) -

It's harder and harder to stand out, and honestly the game coverage model shifts so fast that it doesn't seem like a great career move (at least until you join the Old Boys' Club).

Like many industries, getting your foot in the door comes down to talent, luck, and running into someone at the right time. But once you're in, any industry is a lot easier to navigate. Frustrating as it is. If you ever seen an HR person's list of resumes and applicants you start to see how lucky anyone is to get their dream job.

#16 Edited by Aegon (5401 posts) -

I think with any job the unfortunate truth is sometimes it's just the people you know. Brad and Patrick have spoken about it before but they kind of found their "in" by knowing some of the staff from EGM back in the day on IRC. I'm not saying they don't deserve to be where they are now cause both of them are pretty good writers but the truth of the matter is sometimes all it takes is a little luck.

Ryan was friends with Jeff, Vinny was friends with Carry G, etc.

Drew was...well he was hired from craigslist as an "intern" (mailing stuff as I recall) and ended up doing something else entirely on the site.

#17 Edited by Sackmanjones (4652 posts) -

I write for a small website now making reviews and features (that I won't say the name of cause of Giant Bomb rules) but I know what you mean. Right now the writing work I do is without pay but I enjoy writing reviews and cool little features even though the features simply can't compare to the big sites because we can't get access to developers or early copies of games. I've bought games Id rather not spend the money on just to keep up the work and have reached out to a few people for freelance jobs to make some cash. One never emailed me back and the other gave me a response to send over some articles and that was the end of that.

It seems like the game journalist is a tightly knitted circle that is incredibly hard to penetrate. As for now Ill keep writing for this smaller site and enjoying it because I love games and love to write about them. But I honestly can't help but feel frustrated just like you that the video game journalist nearly impenetrable.

#18 Posted by Milkman (16526 posts) -

You're right but this applies to A LOT of professions. The saying "it's not what you know, it's who you know" is completely true. Networking is the most important thing in finding a job. Some will probably tell you that if you're good enough, people will eventually figure it out and hire you and that may be true. But knowing a guy who knows a guy is a much faster way of getting to where you want to be.

#19 Edited by indieslaw (333 posts) -

It's insular, closed, and frustrating. You're right on all 3 accounts. Best of luck.

#20 Posted by joshwent (2112 posts) -

Serious post:

@joshwent said:

you can stand out if you emphasize your voice. That's the thing that none of those other jerks have, and it might be the key to getting noticed.

Everybody has a voice.

Not sure exactly what you meant by that, but I was trying to say that it helps by showing how you and your perspective is unique. For example, when I see that VGK avatar, I expect to see some screen grab from Katawa Shoujo with a saucy caption, or a YouTube link to a song from some Anime I've never heard of. That's your thing, and it sets you apart from the masses. Just like how Alex's reviews are scathing but light-hearted simultaneously. Or how Jeff's writing is broad and balanced but also deeply reflects his tastes and no one else's.

Everybody has a voice, but most don't hone it to the point where you can see that something uniquely special. So if you do, you have a factor that might be specifically appealing to someone looking to hire, rather than simply being a "good writer."

#21 Posted by wemibelec90 (1550 posts) -

The sad truth is that there just isn't enough money out there to pay these people right now. The few sites that persist had large sponsors to back them or are so plastered with ads that you can hardly navigate their sites. Projects like Unwinnable are trying to get Kickstarted (only at $11,000 after several weeks of funding), and individuals use Patreon just to afford to write for a living. Unfortunately, just as more and more great writing is being done about the medium, there is not enough money to go around to fund it. It's getting to the point that not even those who know someone in the industry can make it for long.

I'd say that, unless you have the patience and persistence to weather out these changes, you might want to consider writing about something else. The future of games writing is very murky and hard to define.

#22 Posted by konig_kei (597 posts) -

If only you were a hot girl, we're in a video age and writing ability isn't always these "journalists" best skill. Get your face out there, if you can put a face to a name you're going to be a lot more memorable.

Online
#23 Posted by BaconGames (3292 posts) -

I write for a small website now making reviews and features (that I won't say the name of cause of Giant Bomb rules) but I know what you mean. Right now the writing work I do is without pay but I enjoy writing reviews and cool little features even though the features simply can't compare to the big sites because we can't get access to developers or early copies of games. I've bought games Id rather not spend the money on just to keep up the work and have reached out to a few people for freelance jobs to make some cash. One never emailed me back and the other gave me a response to send over some articles and that was the end of that.

It seems like the game journalist is a tightly knitted circle that is incredibly hard to penetrate. As for now Ill keep writing for this smaller site and enjoying it because I love games and love to write about them. But I honestly can't help but feel frustrated just like you that the video game journalist nearly impenetrable.

In a lot of ways this is part of a much bigger history about the role of freelance in games writing, and the way writing is payed for and appreciated on the internet. I'm definitely in agreement that it can be frustrating and the story of games writing is paved with the bricks of freelancers. This of course applies to writing and internet content in general where without a reliable audience and cultural legacy to cash in, like Giant Bomb does with its audience, it's easy to argue for keeping one's cards close when the system encourages ebbs and flows between high page view content and expensive but worthwhile pieces that unfortunately don't get the hits.

I'm not generally a journalistic type myself, the kind to get stories and write a ton all the time but even if I were, I would be reluctant to get into this industry based on the competition and structure. With indie games, there are more people overall able to open up and make their livelihood viable (despite it's own crazy competition and consequences) and I hope this trend starts growing in writing. Patreon and like services to support independent and individual endeavors are fledgling at the moment and while certain people are able to split it enough, it's nothing compared to the kinds of opportunities it could afford in the future.

#24 Posted by Counterclockwork87 (601 posts) -

My advice to you, as a fellow writer, is to start a kickass website. A blog that's better than all the fucking video game blogs in the world. I don't write much anymore because I landed an amazing job doing something else I love but if I ever rededicated myself to writing that's exactly what I'd do.

This isn't simple, "Go make a blog!" advice...this is, make the best fucking blog in the world advice. Make the writers come to you. If you have the confidence to do it you will. If you have any hesitations at all you won't. If you read this thinking, yeah right, you've already failed my friend.

#25 Edited by HatKing (5817 posts) -

I know your frustration. I gave up because of reasons like your own. My feelings lean a little more into the idea that a lot of the people with jobs are getting paid to fuck around on Twitter and perpetuate bullshit. For hits, I know. But you can get hits on major websites by being a good writer too. That's harder though, and nobody gives a shit.

I'm back to the creative writing side of things. Sure, it's probably twice as competitive, but at least I can have something tangible to show for it when all is said and done. And I don't have to spend my days looking at the fucking poison that is currently flooding the industry I grew up loving. I don't know that I care about readers as much anymore. The race has beaten that out of me. I mean, sure, I love when people read something I write. I love it even more when they take something away from it. I care about personal expression. And, if at the end of the day I can look at something I've made and feel okay about what it says, and what that says about me, then I'm happy.

#26 Posted by RollingZeppelin (1914 posts) -

@hatking said:

And I don't have to spend my days looking at the fucking poison that is currently flooding the industry I grew up loving.

This is the reason that, even if I wanted to be a writer, I sure as hell wouldn't want to be a games journo. This industry is getting kind of stale lately, with the big budget games just copy-catting the successful one in the genre and the only innovation is in small indie games. It's rare that a dev puts real effort into the things that matter like a truly crafty AI, stuff that hardly needs any computing power but requires a very intelligent designer. There's just not much inspiring new games out there.

Nevermind the internet gaming public that revels in controversy and has a constant hair trigger for any dirt they can dig up on twitter. Don't get me wrong, it's good when people in the industry are called out on their bullshit, but dragging these sometimes personal issues into the public often only exacerbates the problem. We're in this odd place where we're all trying to have fun, and the people that have their hearts in the right place are trying to make that a welcome and fun environment for groups that are normally shat on, but it's turning this normally fun and light hearted hobby into a super serious environment where we must be so careful with every word. It seems like we need to go through this awkward growth period but I just want to get back to that fun, light hearted thing that it used to be.

#27 Edited by Christoffer (1757 posts) -

They talked a little about this on a GB Pax panel once. I think it was Patrick who said that it's mostly about finding your own niche these days. If you're a good writer and know a lot about, for example, e-sports, your chances are probably much higher to get a job. I think that was pretty well put.

There's no demand for another writer on various video games. But you still need some connections and writing skills, of course. So continue to be active in communities and continue writing, I guess. Also, having a set of other skills wouldn't hurt your chances either (like video editing, site development, photoshopping, filming, photography, talking into a camera, writing a monologue, coffee brewing etc.)

But hey, I'm no journalist, so I really don't know.

#28 Posted by mixedupzombies (90 posts) -

Do something that gets you noticed before you go someplace that matters. Also using "I am a white man" and making a slavery joke in the same paragraph says alot.

Online
#29 Posted by ShaggE (6331 posts) -

All entertainment fields are frustratingly incestuous by nature, with voice acting and the games industry being two of the worst.

I did some reviews for a while, and I found that I was making more headway by taking unpaid grunt work (by which I mean reviewing the tiny indies nobody cared about) on small sites than trying to get a piece on the big ones. As my portfolio grew, it was getting easier and easier to get onto sites with bigger reader bases. Still unpaid, but I was getting my words out there and actually getting views.

I gave it up, as it turns out it wasn't really my thing after all, but it IS possible to build yourself up without connections, or gain connections through the grunt work. I did, and I'm the nobody-est nobody I know, with no discernible talent or even the slightest bit of networking skill.

As in all jobs/careers/hobbies/public masturbation, just keep doing it, because not doing it ensures you'll never make progress.

#30 Posted by ArbitraryWater (11474 posts) -

If I didn't think most of "Games Journalism" was a self-important, farcical circlejerk I might be less cynical about your goal. I've spent enough time on the internet to know that Giant Bomb is one exception in a sea of websites that prove the rule (and even then...). At this point I write for myself, and if I get a couple comments on my silly blogs I'll take that as a bonus, but I'm also not sure if I want to pursue writing as a career.

If we want to continue riding the cynicism train, I'd suggest going the youtube celebrity route, because traditional games media isn't going to get any bigger anytime soon. If you establish yourself, eventually someone will notice. If you establish yourself with a gimmick... people will notice more quickly.

#31 Edited by dudeglove (7687 posts) -

Are you bitter? You sound bitter.

#32 Posted by Musai (50 posts) -

@mixedupzombies: Entirely unintentional, I swear. I mean to say that there's not a lot about me that would get me noticed, because like EVERY games journo is a white guy in their early 30s to early 40s.

#33 Posted by Musai (50 posts) -

@dudeglove: Bitter? Maybe a bit. I don't think people in the Old Boys club know or remember how hard it is to be stuck in this situation.

#34 Posted by tablefloor (28 posts) -

Realistically, you need to be doing something that no one else is doing to set yourself apart. Covering the same old won't get you anywhere, as there are plenty of journalists who have experience, but still can't get jobs. I'm not saying there is no hope, but if you record a podcast that makes people laugh, or have features on your site that no one else really addresses, you have a far better chance.

Admittedly, GB is run by people who have been in the journalism sector for years, but it's still doing something no one else is. The community is really strong here, and because the team is small, you can really get to know the staff and understand the thinking behind review scores, as well as what types of games each of the guys enjoys.

You either need a very strong team, or to hit a part of the market that hasn't really been eploited...

#35 Posted by cmblasko (1122 posts) -

It seems like it is much easier to get into game journalism if you previously worked as a developer and vice versa. Even if you are just taking low-level QA jobs it could help you branch out and network with members of the press. If that's not an option, then go the DIY route and make your own web site, blog, YouTube/Twitch channel, whatever. Get on all the social media. For better or worse, it is now important that you actually play games in front of a camera in addition to writing about them. Develop your on-air personality to complement your writing voice. And I don't mean that you should turn into a character or anything, just get comfortable being on video.

I hope it works out for you, good luck.

#36 Posted by Brodehouse (9585 posts) -

Do something that gets you noticed before you go someplace that matters. Also using "I am a white man" and making a slavery joke in the same paragraph says alot.

Really? What does it say? Are you proposing that someone born white should not ever refer to unpaid labor as slavery? Why?

#37 Posted by Chaser324 (6325 posts) -

Sure, it probably is a somewhat insular community, but the bigger issue is that it's a relatively small field that's getting even smaller and less profitable.

If you want to write about games, you're essentially just going to have to create your own opportunities because landing a job at an already well established company like Kotaku or The Escapist is going to be nigh impossible simply because of the large number of people vying for such a small number of positions. Is it a shitty situation for a lot of hard working people? You're damn right it is, but it's not one that I see changing any time soon.

Moderator
#38 Posted by Hunter5024 (5541 posts) -

Sadly as video content gets cheaper and easier to capture and produce, it seems people are increasingly less interested in written content. That compounded with the fact that the advertising business model is becoming less and less relevant, and smaller youtube and twitch celebrities are eating up the fans of bigger sites, it's no wonder that you're having so much trouble finding your place in the industry. Understandably you sound frustrated, I hope you don't let it get to you, because the most valuable trait you can have while you're searching for your dream job is persistence. Maybe in the end, your job in the industry won't end up taking the same form you thought it would, try and be fluid, and creative, if there's no demand for the job you want, make a job that only you can do.

#39 Edited by believer258 (11633 posts) -

I clicked the two arrows that lead you to the end of a discussion and saw a bit on racism and slavery.

*sigh* Guess I'll figure out what all of this is about. I'm just going to go ahead and say two things: 1) Write a book with proper criticism, if you must and 2) Start a blog for putting forth your own opinions.

EDIT: Oh, OK. I read it. If you don't want to read the following block of text, then I'll sum it up by saying "tough shit".

But how did the get where they are? It's usually a variation on "Well, [established name] gave me a shot, and here I am.

That's how practically anything inside any entertainment industry works - being lucky enough to come across the right connections, being sociable enough to introduce yourself and talk to them, and being likable enough for them to consider you. I'm not going to say it's "right or wrong", because we're not talking about morality here. We're talking about efficiency. If people who are in a position to give aspiring writers a job listened to every aspiring writer, they would never have enough time to do anything themselves and they would only get to a small portion of the people vying for attention.

The truth is, "just do it because you enjoy it" is bullshit. I stopped writing for a few years because I'm just too hurt and discouraged and broken to keep trying. I don't write to stroke my ego, and I don't write because I enjoy the physical act of punching keys or wracking my brain over a word, I do it because I want people to read it. I want to share the world inside my head with people, and it breaks my heart when I realize I probably will never be able to.

I'm going to be frank, here. If you are not comfortable with writing about games for yourself, then the games journalism industry will chew you the fuck up and spit you out for breakfast. People will read it, shit on it, tear it apart, and like any public figure, you'll get your own fair share of hate mail. I'm pretty sure that, if you're any sort of decent writer, you'll get plenty of responses from respectable people, but there's no shortage of senseless vitriol toward anyone with an opinion.

You should be writing because you enjoy it. You'll get far more out of writing about games if you do it for yourself and not for other people - the latter is a fool's errand. Stop looking for a soapbox, there's not much for anyone there.

Speaking of writing decently, perhaps you're just not very good at writing? Have you ever had anyone who actually is good at writing criticize your work?

#40 Posted by Musai (50 posts) -

@cmblasko: Beat you to it, I've done 5 years as a QA tester, and I just can't anymore.

#41 Edited by Musai (50 posts) -

@believer258 said:

Speaking of writing decently, perhaps you're just not very good at writing? Have you ever had anyone who actually is good at writing criticize your work?

Not sure how to answer this. Have I had my work criticized before? Yes, I've had editors. I've written things. I don't know if they would count to you, because I don't know if my past editors or J-school teachers are considered "good at writing". I wouldn't be wanting to write for a living if I thought I was completely terrible, give me _some_ credit. And it's not like I'm some pie in the sky dreamer who would love to write about games one day, I already have, but past experience and training don't seem to count for much.

#42 Posted by dudeglove (7687 posts) -

@musai said:

@dudeglove: Bitter? Maybe a bit. I don't think people in the Old Boys club know or remember how hard it is to be stuck in this situation.

If it's any consolation (it probably isn't), but I sort of know what you mean having worked in the media and it really is about "who you know" not "what you know". With my own experience, I kind of just ended up in my previous job partly by accident (basically two phone-calls and a short test of sorts, completely bypassing the usual channels of HR and interviews) although everything I had done leading up to that sort of all accumulated into a weird combination that ironically made me ideal for the job in question.

At the same time the outlets you mentioned in your original post are really kind of shitty. Kotaku/Gawker is the absolute worst, not from a content angle, but from how the company is actually run. Gawker media is currently enjoying a big lawsuit from former unpaid interns because Gawker is basically run by a bunch of shits who led most folk to believe "that the opportunity to work at Gawker alone was payment enough" (almost verbatim statement from the current documents available) not to mention Nick Denton's attempts at fostering a phony hypocritcal class war against tech workers. The Escapist is hardly the friggin' pinnacle of games journalism either.

#43 Edited by IIGrayFoxII (303 posts) -

Honestly, there is no money in games journalism. It has been said on the Bombcast several times. Games journalism was a niche thing before and now it is even more threatened by Youtube, Twitch, etc. If outlets didn't go to pre-release events and receive copies early, I think things would be in very dire straights.

The best thing you can do is create your own site, like this and this. Be sure to also have your own Youtube channel, maybe do some Twitch streams. Game journalism is about being both a personality and a good writer. Obviously being incredibly strong in either could help, but it looks great to have both. Also write and write and write some more. Also you mention trying to get hired at two websites, that is hardly a start. Your best bet is to try and freelance your ass off. Write some reviews of games for samples and you will probably start off by reviewing My Little Pony 5 for DS and it will suck, but it gets your foot in the door.

#44 Posted by Musai (50 posts) -

@musai said:

@dudeglove: Bitter? Maybe a bit. I don't think people in the Old Boys club know or remember how hard it is to be stuck in this situation.

If it's any consolation (it probably isn't), but I sort of know what you mean having worked in the media and it really is about "who you know" not "what you know". With my own experience, I kind of just ended up in my previous job partly by accident (basically two phone-calls and a short test of sorts, completely bypassing the usual channels of HR and interviews) although everything I had done leading up to that sort of all accumulated into a weird combination that ironically made me ideal for the job in question.

At the same time the outlets you mentioned in your original post are really kind of shitty. Kotaku/Gawker is the absolute worst, not from a content angle, but from how the company is actually run. Gawker media is currently enjoying a big lawsuit from former unpaid interns because Gawker is basically run by a bunch of shits who led most folk to believe "that the opportunity to work at Gawker alone was payment enough" (almost verbatim statement from the current documents available) not to mention Nick Denton's attempts at fostering a phony hypocritcal class war against tech workers. The Escapist is hardly the friggin' pinnacle of games journalism either.

It IS consolation, actually. At the same time, it's supremely frustrating because I've yet to find the place that would be perfect for my combination of experience, and I've yet to have that lucky moment that I can capitalize on.

What frustrated me about my Escapist, Gawker and RPS apps, I didn't actually get any feedback. Like, at all. If I'm looking for what to focus on, I don't get any of that from failed apps. It's this weird self-replicating cycle where I can't get any feedback because I have no audience, but I have no audience because I can't get any feedback. I'm 28, I have no career, it sucks.

#45 Posted by AlexW00d (6182 posts) -

You seem to think to highly of yourself dude. To these big companies you wanna write for you're unfortunately a noone, just like the other thousands of kids that want to write for them.

You've either gotta find your own little niche, or schtick or whatever, or, as you say, you've gotta know the right people. It sucks but it's the way of the world.

#47 Posted by Jesus_Phish (611 posts) -

I think you're just going to have to freelance it and do your own thing until you start drawing enough attention. Until your name is being used on other sites by other people. An example I can think of is Cara Ellison. She's a blogger with some freelance work around different sites and she often gets her pieces and name linked to and talked about from other places, like Gawker, like RPS and like The Escapist. The community over at RPS were asking for months if she would be hired as full time. Matt Les's is probably another example of someone who kept at it and now he's over at The Escapist after a stint at Videogamer.

Now I don't know if she knows people in the industry who helped her out or if it's just her personality that got her there, because that's something she does have, a personality. I think that (and this is from a reader/consumer) that in today's journalism world, particularly in video games, that personalities are more important than your ability to write an article. That may not be the right idea, it may not be how thing's should work, but I think from an outsiders view that's how it appears to be.

I think you're just going to have to stick with it until you get noticed if you want to "make it" in the industry. As well, the world is much smaller now. You don't need to know people any more, you just have to get noticed by them. Maybe you're just not being interesting enough, and I don't mean that in a harsh way. Do you have examples of your work you're willing to share?

#48 Posted by FonkyMucker (147 posts) -

You know, indie developers are having just as hard of a time getting on the big gaming sites....and are desperate for any type of press. Imagine all of the interesting and undiscovered stories you could tell by dredging the waters of unknown indie game devs. Its also something that the big guys can't do because it would take too much time and resources. If its a interesting enough story I am sure you could get gamastutra to link it on there site.

#49 Posted by Musai (50 posts) -

@boysef said:

there is nothing funnier than disillusioned white males. "they said if I joined the frat I would be loved and revered forever!" that being said. Welcome to journalism as a whole. I know, I know its a little overwhelming... take some time.. get your legs back, if you need to vomit theres a toilet shaped like your own anus in the corner.

That's not what I'm going for, sorry to ruin your narrative. The fact that there IS a frat is worrying. Even if I want to be in the clubhouse, I want to see people other than white guys in there.

#50 Posted by Musai (50 posts) -

I think you're just going to have to freelance it and do your own thing until you start drawing enough attention. Until your name is being used on other sites by other people. An example I can think of is Cara Ellison. She's a blogger with some freelance work around different sites and she often gets her pieces and name linked to and talked about from other places, like Gawker, like RPS and like The Escapist. The community over at RPS were asking for months if she would be hired as full time. Matt Les's is probably another example of someone who kept at it and now he's over at The Escapist after a stint at Videogamer.

Now I don't know if she knows people in the industry who helped her out or if it's just her personality that got her there, because that's something she does have, a personality. I think that (and this is from a reader/consumer) that in today's journalism world, particularly in video games, that personalities are more important than your ability to write an article. That may not be the right idea, it may not be how thing's should work, but I think from an outsiders view that's how it appears to be.

I think you're just going to have to stick with it until you get noticed if you want to "make it" in the industry. As well, the world is much smaller now. You don't need to know people any more, you just have to get noticed by them. Maybe you're just not being interesting enough, and I don't mean that in a harsh way. Do you have examples of your work you're willing to share?

Objectively speaking, one of my biggest worries about my writing is that I still have "essay voice" on, and I can't turn it off. I catch myself doing it sometimes, but I worry that it bleeds into everything I do.